In the last Business Corner post, we talked about how to turn your special physical therapy knowledge and training into a competitive advantage by communicating your special approach to assessment and treatment in the marketplace. We looked at a quick example, and introduced the idea of featuring offers for additional educational information through your website and information packets. In today’s post, we will take another example, the physician’s waiting room, and show how to make it a continuous source of potential new patients.
To begin with, it’s helpful to think about the typical conversation between physician and patient. How does that “private” conversation go, and how does it impact YOU? Will the physician recommend physical therapy, and if so, what kind of information will the physician offer on the fly?
For the physician, taking as much time as you would want to explain the benefit of physical therapy to each patient is probably not going to happen. Physicians will be short on time, and explanations about treatment options or how to select the right Physical Therapist are routinely reduced to, “Where do you work, and where do you live?” No new insights there, but how do you as a PT turn this age-old problem into an opportunity?
A good place to start is to do what you’re supposed to do, and provide educational materials (marketing) that patients actuallywant, and physicians actually use. If you can accomplish that, then you can be in hundreds of waiting rooms all at the same time, and capture the attention of prospective patients via your marketing materials. When done properly, these materials will position YOU as the expert as well as the standard bearer. These materials should:
- Educate about the basics,
- Review treatment options, and
- Provide standards for comparison.
The idea is to teach prospective patients enough so that they feel more in control of their choices. Once prospects feel more in control, then they seek a way to take the next step in the process, YOUR PROCESS. This is no different than what the drug companies do. They detailed information on how their drugs work, when to use them, when not to use them, and cap it off with free samples. As a physical therapist, when you understand how powerful this strategy is, you can use your EXPERT knowledge as a solid foundation to make this happen.
Take a minute now to look at a set of sample materials on our sample set page, www.PTreferralMachine.com/SampleSet. When offered in a compelling way to the physician, these kinds of materials will become a welcome fixture in many physician waiting rooms. We’ve all been in waiting rooms that have displays of literature on various topics. The waiting room is the perfect point of contact to place your material, but remember, first you must have something physicians actually want to hand out, and that prospective patients actually want to use.
Here’s an example of what I mean from one of my last doctor visits. I was picking out a magazine to read in the waiting room, and while sifting through the pile, I noticed a brochure about acne treatment. Since I have four teenagers, and acne was part of our current set of problems, I picked it up and learned about a special light therapy used for acne. As a health care marketer, I was reminded how really simple and effective this is. Almost every prospective patient will wait around at their doctor’s office, looking for something to read, and that’s a perfect opportunity to provide helpful information on treatment options. If they trust their doctor (which most people do), then the fact that the physician selected that material and placed it in his or her waiting room means they probably endorse it. Now, do you think a significant percentage of people LOOKING for something to read at the doctor’s office will have, or know someone who has, back, neck, or leg pain? OF COURSE! It doesn’t get much easier than that, does it?
But the marketing job isn’t done yet. You still have the job of “closing the deal.” Good marketing spurs the audience to take some action. Once we’ve done the hard work of getting the material into waiting rooms, then what? The informational brochure or booklet needs an obvious call to action. With my acne experience, there was only one brochure laid out, it didn’t say TAKE ME I’M FREE, it had no coupon to offer a FREE screening or trial, no website resources, and no free ANYTHING I could just take and stuff in my pocket. So I just left the brochure on the table. The point here is that after getting your material into the waiting room, you still have the job of capturing prospective patients into YOUR marketing and booking system. In the acne brochure, the chances of me taking the next step would have increased EXPONENTIALLY if I was offered an appropriate call to action. Crafting effective offers or calls to action takes experience. Take this article for example; can you spot all the different calls to action (offers)?
That “call to action” can be the critical tool that keeps the education and trial process going. In addition, your call to action provides you with a way to measure direct response along with the appeal of your message. After seeing the sample set at www.PTreferralMachine.com/SampleSet, you should get a better idea of how your marketing material can be set up to include a variety of attractive offers. Usually, as the sample set shows, this requires a series of materials that all tie together as a system.